Meet the finalists

Residential Under 10 Storeys
All Finalists2019 Winners

Lovell Partnerships

Michael Saunders MCIOB

Michael Saunders has set the bar high by completing this first project out of a total of eight with commendable innovation. He overcame the drainage challenge in notoriously poor-quality ground by installing prefabricated plastic sewage chambers. He mitigated the elevated flood risk through flood-resistant doors, air bricks and drainage. A natural team builder, he engaged with the stakeholders early to prevent issues escalating and build trust, and will be making the client happy for some time to come.

About the Project

Orchard Place, King’s Lynn

Client: Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk

Contract: PPC 2000 with a wider developer management agreement

Value: £20m

In charge of an eight-project partnership with the local council that will ultimately deliver 1,000 new homes, Michael Saunders completed the first scheme with bar-raising success. He overcame a serious drainage challenge in the poor-quality ground as well as the budget constraints in an area with historically low house values.

With the site’s high water table, tidal deposits, and rich clay and peat content threatening a costly earthworks operation, Michael ensured project viability through his design solutions. By installing prefabricated plastic manhole chambers for the foul water sewers, he removed the need for piled foundations for the manholes or deep peat removal. It also eliminated the risk of subsequent ground settlement disconnecting the drainage system from piled concrete chambers, simplified the sequencing (the cost of mobilising a piling rig would have forced the piling of many chambers in one go), and was much faster to install than traditional concrete.

His key initiatives on a site with a high flood risk but no budget to raise ground levels substantially included installing flood-resistant air bricks, doors and drainage valves, and running all the electrics 600mm above finished floor level. Other earthworks innovations included geogrids to stabilise the ground, and precast modular foundations built to meet the exact ground conditions and house types under construction.

Michael was the glue that held the complex partnership together. A natural team builder, he resolved issues by engaging with stakeholders early to prevent them escalating. The strong relationships he built underpinned his preferred one-team approach to the project and generated trust. With two of the eight projects completed in 2019, a third early in 2020 and five more in the pipeline (not to mention another two sites outside the partnership agreement), he is clearly going to be busy making the client happy for some time to come.